Postmodern Collage Poetry

A blog about writing collage poetry, post modern poetry, multi lingual poetry

Monday, December 29, 2003

The Year Ahead 2004

I have had some time over the holidays to reflect on past times and look toward 2004. For most of the past 6 years since I left South America my life has been in flux and my poetry has been in the same way. I look at writers who are my contemporaries or friends and I see great promise. new friends like Mark Tardi and Kerri Sonnenberg are producing great work and older friends like Joe Ahern and Brian Clements are not failing to surprise. I think 2004 will be a good year--

Friday, December 26, 2003

Poetry and Relevance

It seems to me that Poetry has not lost relevance but that we live in a vulgar time and the enemy is Wal Mart. The fact is the longer that we allow our world to become blanched of all flavour the longer we will be part of a spiritual dearth

Saturday, December 20, 2003


I know it is not politically correct but I am celebrating Christmas and not the other holidays. I know that it is not always acceptable to poetry people but I remain for whatever it is worth a Catholic. I do not agree with the Church on allot of issues, gay rights, women priests, and the patriarchal aspect of the Church but being Catholic is part of the fibre of my being and I could never leave the Church. I remain in Dorothy Day's words angry but obedient.

While I feel most at home with the kind of Dorothy Day/Thomas Merton type of Catholicism I feel much more at home with even conservative Catholics then I do do with Evengelicals or conservative Protestants. the bottom line is that do not believe in personal salvation I believe only in the Kingdom of God, and that is a community endevour. I cannot abandon
St Francis, Mozart, Chartre Cathedral, and yes the Borgia Popes, and the Inquistition for
a feel good milquetoast religion full of Jimmy Swaggarts and gold furniture.

I think that it is the strangeness that keeps me around, the Pope for example is Anti Abortion, Anti War, Anti Death Penalty and this kind of strange mix of views is calming for me. And any church that can have Mel Gibson and Michael Moore and Martin Sheen as members is home for me. So Merry Christmas-- Go Dwells With us that is what Immanuel means-- God with us-- I will have a drink to that.

Friday, December 19, 2003

A Chicago Poetic

During a recent outing with a poet I really admire, Mark Tardi, We talked a little about a Chicago Poetic, and also why we in Chicago have persisted as a Chicago community to fight over crumbs-- while other cities (New York, SF, Philly and even Milwaukee) have excelled. Of late our poetry scene has been invaded (in a good way) by poets from other parts of country. At a recent Peter Gizzi reading at Danny's the lack of a Midwestern feel was evident-- and some of the east coast flavor was obviously seeping in. I think this may be ok, I really think however that we in Chicago need to become part of the avant garde and force our local institutions like the Poetry Center, our Universities and others to move to the forefront of poetry instead of the pap that we are supporting now (like Billy Corgan reading at the poetry center for example).

A Chicago poetic would incorporate the mentality of a continental city, a city that can absorb from both coasts and create a new American poetics. While those on the coasts are influenced as port cultures by external, global poetries we in Chicago need to synthesise what is good in both places and begin to create a new poetry a poetry that speaks from our communities. Since I have returned to Chicago I have been revitalized by the lack of pretention here. on the East Coast pretention was everywhere, here our local poetry group is meeting in a Bowling Alley on the South West side and it is the right place for our poetry to grow. Enough of fighting over crumbs let us make for ourselves something truly new

Monday, December 15, 2003

The poetry communities I have known

Being inserted again into a 'new' city and finding my place in the poetry scene leads me to reflect on the other communities of poets I have known. In Bolivia the poets were very much political forces, and since the society is so poor and has allot of illiteracy readings and speaking became very important. But Bolivia is a place where poetry and public intellectuals are welcomed. While I was never totally welcomed ( I worked for a major NGO and I am American) the community was very vibrant and very dynamic. Brazil was different, more like the USA but there were some great voices like Regis Bonvicino who made a difference.

Moving from Brazil to Dallas was a culture shock in many ways. The poetry community in Dallas however was very rich and very nurturing, some very fine poets live in Dallas, Jack Myers, Brian Clements, Joe Ahearn, Bruce Bond, Chris Soden, Michael Puttonan Carris and many others. Because the community is small it tends not to have the pettiness of larger places I have lived in. A major turning point in my poetic life was made there when I participated in a series of dialogues among 'synthetic'poets we even had an anti reading. Joe Ahearn has a chapbook of these type of poems. I was really challenged in Dallas and many of my current interests began there. Also the Writers Garret and Dallas Poets Community are good organizations, and now a new Journal Sentence has come out of Dallas. Some new
voices have arisen in Dallas including my friend Christine Murray who is dynamic and brings a perspective to avant garde poetics that I really respect.

Then because of work we moved to Princeton, NJ and NJ scene was the weirdest thing I have ever been involved in, a whole state trying to impress New York and Philadelphia there was one group of poets run by some young woman from Rutgers but it was less than impressive. I went to readings in Asbury Park and Hoboken that were filled with the 'wood jewelry' crowd and the Camus family of Gothic girls.

I did meet however Sina Queyras in Princeton who had a profound impact on me as a poet, she is a fine poet and critic. But as with allot of the East Coast , NJ was a community desert. Philly and New York were very dynamic places but the rivers stopped the poetry.

So now I have moved home to Chicago, and I must say that I am pleased with the poetry scene but I am also working in it more-- a fine group of poets resides at the U of C (Matthias Regan for example) another group has grown up around the 3030 reading series animated by Kerri Sonnenberg (a fine poet) and Jesse Seldis (can you say a poet who is a male Gertrude Stein). I found this group inviting and open and friendly. There is also the Danny's reading series which is excellent.

On the whole Chicago is kind of half way between a New York Feel (hyper competitive) and Dallas. The lack of a good MFA program here is a problem for poets and the lack of a poet's house, or Writer's house is also a problem-- Chicago needs a good literary organization that is avant garde poetry centered but we have time. On the whole I have been blessed with the poets I have known and know--

Collage of Life

Thomas Merton, a monk I admire greatly, said once that most people are like crows, they fill up their nests with shiny things until they cannot sit down anymore. I think that many times poetry is like this, I think that everything is a collage but many times we run towards the shiny, the new, the innovative and we run from the clean and simple. I think that innovation is fine, and needed but sometimes we also need to try to look for textures in things and colors that we would not normally. I have found this to be the case during times in my life when poetically I was not producing anything-- people who I did not expect entered and left my life and provided just enough texture to make a change for me, people like Chris Murray, Joe Ahearn (especially Joe), and Sina Queyras entered and left my life but left seeds that germinated in fertile soil for me poetically. This is the key many times the
poets you think are important are not-- and others bring forth clarity.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Plamondon School

I have been working through the poetry center of Chicago as a poet in residence at the Plamondon School on Chicago's near southwest side. It has become almost a sacred experience for me in the sense that I am able to introduce to these 4-5-6 graders poets not only that I love and respect but poets who I have also dismissed. I have had to move outside of my personal-poetic interests and teach poets that have not interested me in the past like Langston Hughes or Gabriela Mistral along with poets who do interest me like WCW and Lorca.

I do not know if these kids are getting the full impact of what I am doing but what I do know is that I am trying my best to give them good poetry. Some of the kids write great verse-- and some of the kids are clueless but most are interested. The state of the schools in Chicago are
decrepit at best but these kids are overcoming that I think?

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Poetically Friendly Nations

when I was in college an English professor told me once about the first reading of Osip Mandelstam's banned poetry in Russia in the 1960's . According to this professors thousands of people came and most, non poets, knew the words by heart. I think it is interesting how certain nations have a love affair with poetry and how passionate that can be. Chile, Italy, Argentina, Russia, Poland, Turkey, Iran, and many other nations are defined by poetry and a passion for life that is often lacking.

Poetics and Politics

Early this year there was allot of yelling by poets against the war et cetera. While I think this effort was noble, I think something else needs to be asked. Post modern poetry is opaque and not an easy read-- much of the neo confessional stuff (read Hirsch, Pinsky et al) is personal and sappy-- I wonder if as poets we need to re examine the need to write manifestos and to challenge the political establishments accepted norms in new ways.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Collage and Poetry's Relevance

There has been much written and lamented regarding the Relevance of poetry vis a vis other types of art. Here in Chicago this has been addressed somewhat by the Slam phenomenon but I do not know if this is the answer. I myself have found that collage and fusion could create something new. A collage of images, words, ideas and even textures could be transformative for poetry.

Pound did this in some way with the Cantos fusing languages, images and sounds into a new form. I think however that too many writers today are masters of gimmicks.

I went to a reading by Peter Gizzi last month-- at the wonderful Danny's reading series. He is the kind of poet who I can relate to so generous and his work is well crafted while being avant garde. I think that this is the problem with many 'relevant' poetics and poets that craft has been ignored.

Been working on something new

Crack Pot Theories

Our new Installation section shows you how to install plumbing for a bathroom, kitchen, garage and make your wife go crazy! infantle tantrums with name-calling interrupted by bits of Bible verses and ideas about the end of the world. Elaborating an anti-Home Depot mythos is a key poetic ambition. His central, focal hatred was directed at Clowns and he never repented it. attempts by his acolytes to ignore his monomania this is shameful. For all his mumbo-jumbo about Circuses and economics, he was in essence a Anti Clown
“the mental patient Ezra Pound the raving anti-Semite is our guest at Home Depot we are buying tile and soap and screws and a porch swing for him to enjoy

Megaloscrumptious Antipasto men smear the bruschetta on the toast and let the blood red tomato drip onto the floor. Design for the experienced do-it-yourselfer, "Advanced Home Plumbing" contains detailed step-by-step instructions, clearly illustrated with color photographs to walk you through every stage of your project. Deferred my passion to relieve myself of this untold tale of steam showers and toilets that self clear

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Poetry and the Right

If I ever went back to get a PHD I think a topic that is so interesting and lacks a literature is the avant garde right.
you know Italian Futurism, German Expressionism (Nolde forexample), Pound, Eliot, and many other permutations I think that current poetic conversations begin many of them from a Marxist critique and I think that much of the avant garde has an equal amount of origin in the right from conservative to fascist. This is not to agree with the politics of these Fascists, but I dont agree with Communists either. But I want to know what motivated Pound, or Balla or Nolde to be avant garde and Rightists?

Cool Stuff

Well... here I am again-- addicted to the blog

Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches and Poetry

to creating a Chicago 'poetic' is to get a Chicago style junk food asthetic involved-- lots of Italian beef and deep dish pizza and big juicy steaks--- let the San Franciscans and New Yorkers keep their thinness give me men and women with meaty fingers, and drops of gravy on their shirts---

We are going to create a new promo tool for Chicago poetics the great center fielder, Cubs Fan (boo) and reknowned South Side Poet Mark Tardi suggested that we have poetry trading cards and I am going to work with him of this project.

Anyway this blog thing is addicting--

This is the problem today is that we have become too Balkanized post modern poetics is very much like my hometown of Chicago full of green lines and boundries where in I think that too many American poets let themselves get bogged down in the whole race/class/liberal/conservative et cetera debate and they do not realize that when you immerse yourself in lots of poetics from different places in different languages and different forms these lines can diminish.

I think that the issue is what is the possibility that poetry can really be a unique creative act? I am committed to collage and bringing together the disparate into work that no one has thought to join,